When I was a teenager, I had a poster that hung in the recessed part of the wall, near the dormer window in my bedroom. It somehow managed to be the first thing I would see when
I woke up. On the poster were these words:
“In some way our deepest
self is the self of all men. Their pain is our pain, their need is our need; there can be no joy for us until there is joy for them.
Those words always meant a great deal to me,
but as I grew into adulthood, their meaning grew deeper. To this day, they evoke parallel feelings of helplessness and determination, especially when I think about the horrors people face the world over.
I have seen searching for quotes that better express what faith in God means to me. A friend from choir sent me this wonderful editorial from the New York Times by Judith Warner about the role that religious traditions and questions of
faith play in her life.
The thing is, it’s Good Friday – a time where in John’s home growing up, they didn’t speak during the hours of 12 and 3 – ostensibly the time Christ was dying on the Cross. It’s a day of fasting and praying and abstaining from meat. It’s the Xian Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur if you will, and it’s not. The proposition for Good Friday is that nothing can undo sin, save the sacrifice of a Sinless One in our place. And that’s a stretch for a LOT of people. I get that and I am not trying to change your mind if you are one of those people. Because you have thought these things through and far be it from me to impose my thinking onto you. Seriously, I mean that. But for today, I am going to put a few things out there – by people far better able to shine a light on what goes on in my brain. I hope if you disagree, you will comment, because I know I
will learn from you:)
“Cheap grace is the enemy of the church”
“Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
“As they were crowding around the cross and kissing the feet and head of Jesus, I closed my eyes and could see his sacred body stretched out and crucified upon our planet earth. I saw the immense suffering of humanity during the centuries: people killing each other; people dying from starvation and epidemics; people driven from their homes; people sleeping on the streets of large cities; people clinging to each other in desperation; people flagellated, tortured, burned and mutilated; people alone in locked flats, in prison dungeons, in labor camps; people craving a gentle word, a friendly letter, a consoling embrace, people – children, teenagers, adults, middle-aged, and elderly – all crying out with an anguished voice: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?”
Imagining the naked, lacerated body of Christ stretched out over our globe, I was filled with horror. But as I opened my eyes….I saw the endless procession of humanity gathering around the sacred body of Jesus, covering it with their tears and their kisses, and slowly moving away from it comforted and consoled by such great love…..With my mind’s eye I saw the huge crowds of isolated, agonizing individuals walking away from the cross together, bound by the love they had seen with their own eyes and touched with their own lips. The cross of horror became the cross of hope, the tortured body became the body that gives new life; the gaping wounds became the source of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation.”
Henri Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak
“Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it, because he is out of place in it, and yet he must be in it, his place is with those others who do not belong, who are rejected by power, because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world.”
“People who say “same-sex marriage makes me uncomfortable” should probably remind themselves that comfort has nothing to do with the issue and that, often as not, change is discomforting. I think those of us who are straight people really need to sit down quietly and compare our own discomfort with the discomfort of gays and lesbians who for years have been excluded, isolated, silenced, abused, and even killed”
“How often it is that those furthest from the seats of power are nearer to the heart of things. Remember that listening to Jesus, seated on the mountainside were no Roman centurions, no King Herods, no Pahrisees. These were ordinary folk, the kind likely as not to stone the prophets, to beg Moses to lead them back to Egypt. Yet it was to them that Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth;” “You are the light of the world.”
Has common humanity ever received so high a compliment from so informed a source?”
William Sloane Coffin, Credo
Wishing you all, dear readers a deeply happy and meaningful day!
And, going from the Sacred to the Profane, yes, I am knitting and I have added two projects, one of which I might frog because it’s not draping well. Pictures above.
God be with you ’til we meet again!